Israel, a departure from Zionism

February 14, 2010 10:40

David Forman writes in the Jerusalem Post about how Israel is betraying its Zionist and Jewish roots by discriminating against its non-Jewish minority and against the immigrants.

NEVERTHELESS, OUR overall relationship to the Arab minority... has been one of disdain, unequal treatment, humiliation and out-and-out discrimination. Sadly, this conduct extends to other minorities in the country – Ethiopians and foreign workers – but none like it does to Arab citizens. Herzl’s hope for the full integration of Arabs was echoed in the diaries of Israel’s first president Chaim Weizmann: “I am certain that the world will judgethe Jewish state by what it will do with its Arab population, just as the Jewish people will be judged by what it does or fails to do in this state.”

These two Zionist leaders were only expressing what was mandated of the Jewish people as they went from Egyptian slavery to freedom: to create a society that would be a rejection of the abuse of power executed against them by the pharaohs. The antecedent to Herzl’s and Weizmann’s writings is the biblical decree: “When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens” (Leviticus 19:33-34).


What about the matter of east Jerusalem, which has been formally annexed to the state? It should logically follow that the residents there are citizens. Alas, these Palestinians are allowed to vote in municipal elections, but not national ones. Further, they cannot secure building permits, while Braverman’s government approves yet another Jewish neighborhood in their midst – in Shuafat. AndJerusalem ’s mayor, Nir Barkat, openly defies a court order to evacuate those Jews illegally occupying Arab homes in Sheikh Jarrah with nary a word of protest from Braverman and his coalition cronies.

What do we call such all-encompassing inequality? Are east Jerusalem Arabs half-citizens? An enlightened Israeli would euphemistically label such treatment unjust. However, the rest of the world would use the designation apartheid, even though the analogy is inaccurate and the use of such nomenclature unfair. So, what should we call it? How about calling it for what it is: racism. And it matters little whether it is politically or religiously motivated.

Such condemnable behavior toward the Arab population is not only morally corrupt, but practically insane, as it will surely invite an internal intifada of our own making.

Until the Jewish state lives up to the urgings of Herzl and Weizmann, let alone fulfills the Levitical directive of how we should behave toward the “stranger” – all of which serve as the lightning rod to define the nature of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state – the reality of Israel will overwhelm the ideal of Israel as being a “light unto the nations.”

February 14, 2010 10:40

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive